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Free Video Chats Put Many Tutors at Disadvantage

After initially welcoming the free video chat feature, it is now very apparent that potential clients are in-effect ‘gaming’ the system by arranging video chats with several tutors and then picking their favourite.

I’ve had at least three clients recently who have made it clear that they’ve booked multiple video chats with different tutors, and I do object to feeling as though I’m taking part in an audition.

For Tutorful to allow clients to book multiple video chats is obviously good for Tutorful and the client, but tutors are put at a distinct disadvantage by having their booking scores decrease if they’re not successful.

Is it possible to have a system where a client can ONLY book a free online video chat with ONE tutor? Once that video chat is complete and the client isn’t sure about the tutor, then they can book another chat with another tutor.

If this can’t be done, then Tutorful should make sure Tutor booking scores aren’t affected by tutors missing out, as many invariably will if clients take full advantage of this system. By all means reward the successful tutor with a booking score increase.

I’m prepared to work for free if it means I have a good chance of securing a new client, but I very strongly object to working for free if I’m part of an audition because of a system that bends over backwards for clients at the expense of the tutors.

I made a search of the top 30 piano tutors for hours taught (of which I’m one), and noticed the majority DON’T offer video chats. Unless changes are made to this unfair system, I’ll also be doing away with it, because it’s becoming a right pain.

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I had one student, who would not come on camera, as a raft of questions lol It did feel like an audition/interview and tbh she asked many of the questions several times over and I did mention to her that it stated in my Bio what my qualifications were and my experiences of teaching her subject at degree level. I did not come away feeling very positive about taking her on as a student but she came back and asked for a lesson. In hindsight, I should have asked her a few questions re her expectations as they seem a little unrealistic lol

I still don’t understand this perspective.

Everything you do on Tutorful is “an audition”. Your profile is an audition. Messaging a potential student is an audition. Applying for a job from the jobs board is an audition. The video chat doesn’t do anything different from that.

Do you really think that before the video chat feature, people were messaging you and only you? Of course not! Well maybe some were but I’d say a significant percentage were messaging 2-3 people and selecting their favourite (which was you!).

The video chat is no different from that. What the video chat does is it cuts out the back-and-forth messaging between students and tutors and condenses it into an informal 15 minute discussion.

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A profile isn’t so much an audition as displaying the goods in the shop window. I think the free video chat - while no doubt many use it properly, can be used by those who don’t want to read profiles and don’t have an idea of whether a tutor is suitable for them. The one thing that struck me when I began offering the video chat is just how many people book a video chat with no accompanying message. This didn’t happen anywhere near as often when a client’s options were either to message or book a paid lesson.

Without the video chat, of course clients will message more than a single tutor, but at least by exchanging a few messages, tutor and pupil/parent will know what to expect, rather than doing a chat with very little info exchanged. I offered free video chats in expectation that it was more than likely that I’d secure the client. If a client books several free chats with different tutors, then the likelihood decreases, and when I’m working for free, I want a better than 50/50 chance of it paying dividends. If I’m just as likely (or less so) to secure a booking as I am to fail and have the subsequent hit on my tutor score, then the outlay of working for free isn’t worth it. Every time I answer a message, I know it could impact my booking score, but I see the free video chat as an extra way of jeopardizing the score, and that’s something I could do without.

I’ve now removed my free video chat option, and will see how going back to the old system works out. What I now do is offer a half-price introductory lesson.

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I think you make some great points Basmati which to me show that we shouldn’t exaggerate the difference made by free video chats to the situation we were already in, however I still think there is one crucial difference - that when a prospective client reads your profile and decides not to message you, it doesn’t impact your scores.

You are certainly correct however that clients who message you could be messaging others and if they don’t pick you, that impacts your booking score. So the question then is whether free video chats adds an additional risk to booking scores that tutors were not facing before.

You are right that they already faced such risks - but I still think it’s fair to ask why they should have to face more risk especially when they are working for free in the process. I think it’s a valid concern that access to free video chats would encourage clients to shop around more, to take advantage of that. If that happened, it would pose an increased risk to tutor’s booking scores compared to not offering the free video chat. I’ll repeat my mantra from a previous thread on this: If it’s free for the client, it should be free for the tutor too!

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Hi all,

Thanks for your comments and feedback here.

The free video chat option is a feature that benefits both Tutors and Students even if it doesn’t seem like it to you. As @Basmati64 mentioned, it cuts out the toing and froing of messages and condenses this into a quick 15 minute chat which is often more convenient for both parties and allows a more personal introduction to each other.

Students have complete autonomy over which tutors they enquire with and which they go onto book a lesson with. Providing our students with the option to find the right tutor is something we’re passionate about providing, and we pride ourselves on being able to do this through the free video chat option. This process is no different to a student messaging 5 tutors and only going onto book with 1 - the odds aren’t very different at all. Online tuition in itself is very competitive and as such Tutors should always be considering where they can improve their profile or sell themselves a little bit more when a student enquires with them.

I can appreciate your concerns regarding the impact on your booking score, but as I mentioned, the process is no different to that of a student messaging several tutors to only book with one.

Thanks, Abbie :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi Abbie,

What about the argument that offering free video chats could incentivise clients to shop around for tutors to a greater degree than before, therefore causing a greater risk to tutor’s booking scores than before? If that did occur, then the impact on the booking score would actually be different.